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agenda interesting bits & can’t miss events

Photo by Rabbi Barry Altmark

On Aug. 26, Temple Emanu-El debuted “The Klezmer Shabbat Service,” composed by Alan Goldspiel as a tribute to the Birmingham Jewish community and in honor of the Ruth and Marvin Engel Cantorial Chair at Emanu-El. The service featured the Emanu-El Choir, Magic Shtetl Klezmer Band, Cantor Jessica Roskin and Conductor Paul Mosteller.

Uncertain future for Birmingham’s Friedman Center Facility offered for sale, Knesseth Israel discusses next move Changes are in the works at the Friedman Center for Jewish Life in Birmingham, as the building is for sale, and Knesseth Israel Congregation is looking to start its next chapter elsewhere. In 2013, Jimmy Filler and Brenda and Fred Friedman acquired the building, which had been on the market for several months, in an effort to keep a financially-struggling Knesseth Israel from having to move. Friedman said the last three years have been “a good try” but it was time to sell the Overton Road facility. The building has been made available for groups in the Jewish community to use over the last three years. After it became the Friedman Center, Knesseth Israel was allowed to remain in the building for $1 per year. Last year, Temple Beth-El held a section of weekday religious school in the building, and it also has housed the Collat Jewish Family Services CJFS Cares program for those with Alzheimer’s and other memory or movement issues. With the planned sale of the building, Knesseth Israel is discussing its next move at a Sept. 11 congregational meeting. Discussions have centered on the congregation moving into the rabbi’s house across the street, with the rabbi’s family moving to a nearby property. The state’s only non-Chabad Orthodox congregation, Knesseth Israel moved into the new building in 2007 after several years of planning. Its previous building on Montevallo Road had numerous costly issues and

plans were originally to rebuild there, but site problems and the high cost of housing in the vicinity, hampering efforts to attract young families and newcomers, prompted a move. In Sept. 2006, ground was broken for the new building on Overton Road. After the new building was completed, the real estate market collapsed and the old property did not sell for five years, and brought in much less than was expected. The fundraising campaign had brought in over $5.4 million. In 2012, a letter to congregants stated that “about $8 million” was invested in the Overton Road property, and the bank was owed over $3 million. In an arrangement with the bank, the property was put on the market for $5.5 million but after a year it had not sold. In June 2013, the sale leading to the building’s establishment as the Friedman Center took place. A July 12 letter to congregants from Knesseth Israel President Ken Ehrenberg said the building had become “a financial burden to its owner,” prompting the current discussion to move. He said the decision “was like a weight off our shoulders” and will strengthen the congregation, as despite the low rent “we were struggling to meet the other expenses associated with our presence in such a large space.” Friedman said he started by contacting six local Jewish organizations

September 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 5

Profile for Southern Jewish Life

SJL Deep South, September 2016  

Sept. 2016 Deep South edition of Southern Jewish Life, the Jewish community news magazine for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and NW Florida

SJL Deep South, September 2016  

Sept. 2016 Deep South edition of Southern Jewish Life, the Jewish community news magazine for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and NW Florida

Profile for sjlmag
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